Gingerbread Blondies

I don’t always love chocolate (I know, I know) but I love brownies! They are one of my FAVE desserts. More than half of the reason I love brownies is the fudgey texture and the crackly top. Traditional blondies, as good as they are, often just don’t have that gooey texture and are usually more like dense cake. Not these blondies! Although they look like chocolate brownies, there’s no chocolate in them at all. That dark color comes from molasses, a key part of the gingerbread flavor.

These blondies are so gooey and so warm and so spicy and bake so easily in a brownie pan. They are the perfect, unexpected addition to your holiday parties!

aerial view of gingerbread brownies on white plates sitting on  a wooden background.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup half and half

2 tbs mayo

2 tsp vinegar

1/4 cup oil plus 2 tbs

1 1/2 tsp spiced rum

2 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup molasses

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a brownie pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together baking soda, flour, and salt.
  3. In a bowl, mix together molasses, rum, ginger, oil, eggs and sugar until smooth and combined.
  4. Stir together half and half, vinegar and mayo and allow to sit for ten minutes.
  5. After ten minutes mix together the wet ingredients, dry ingredients and mayo mixture until fully combined.
  6. Pour batter into the lined pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cut brownies while still warm.

Gingerbread brownies stacked on a white plate
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Toasted Almond and Winter Citrus Yule Log

I have always wanted to make a yule log cake! Well actually, I had been calling them swirly cakes until a friend informed me of their true title last night. Either way, they are so festive and so distinct! I finally worked up the courage and concocted this toasted almond cake with a winter citrus buttercream. It’s so festive but lighter than other winter flavors (I see you and love you gingerbread but sometimes I need some lemon in my life!) This cake is super fluffy, almost like angel food cake’s slightly shorter cousin, and has a beautiful sugary crust after being rolled up in powdered sugar, almost like it’s been dusted in snow!

I brought this to a dinner party this weekend and it was a huge hit. I’d always been intimidated by yule log and jelly roll cakes because of that impressive swirl but this cake was much easier than I anticipated. Plus, just so tasty!

Almond and citrus are a classic pairing, and are surprisingly wintery. The zing of winter citrus, which in this recipe are clementine, orange and lemon, plus the roasty-toasty flavor of the toasted almonds are the perfect cure to your winter blues.

I love to bake with essential oils. They add such an intense flavor in such a small amount and are alcohol free in case you’re uncomfortable with extracts. Please make sure the essential oils you chose are food safe! I use the DoTerra brand and I know there are countless other brands of edible oils. Just please do your research, since many essential oils are not edible at all (hello poisonous eucalyptus)! However, you certainly don’t need to run out and buy essential oils just for this recipe! They can be replaced by a teaspoon of lemon and orange extracts.

Since this cake is so light and airy, the richness of the buttercream brings this cake back down to earth. However, if you’re not a frosting person, replace the buttercream with a delicious citrus scented whipped cream by added orange zest, some powdered sugar and some citrus essential oil (make sure it’s food-safe!!) to some cream whipped to stiff peaks. Make sure to refrigerate before serving!

Bring this show-stopper to your next holiday gathering and you’ll definitely be invited back!

yulelog

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Ingredients:

nonstick spray that includes flour, or nonstick spray plus flour for sprinkling

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp almond extract

1 cup flour

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar plus extra for sprinkling

2 sticks butter, softened

8 drops orange essential oil 

4 drops lemon essential oil

1 tsp orange or clementine zest

the juice of one orange or two clementines

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

cooking spray with flour

the zest of half an orange

1 tablespoon dark chocolate melts, melted

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Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and nonstick spray that includes flour. Alternatively, spray with nonstick spray and coat with flour.

2. With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until extremely light  and frothy.

3. Sift flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture and add the almond extract. 

4. Mix together until smooth and pour into the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake at 370 degrees for 12 minutes or until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed.

6. While the cake bakes, cover a dish towel in powdered sugar.

7. Once the cake is removed from the oven, invert onto the prepared dish towel and roll the cake while it is still hot.

8. Allow the cake to cool while rolled.

9. While the cake cools, beat together softened butter, the juice of one orange, the zest of half an orange, three and a half cups of powdered sugar and orange and lemon essential oils until fluffy.

10. Once the cake is cooked, unroll,  spread with frosting and re-roll the cake.

11. Present the cake seam side down on a plate.

12. Toast the slivered almonds in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just fragrant.

13. Melt one tablespoon of dark chocolate. (I used chocolate melts so I didn’t have to deal with tempering)

14. Use a piping bag to form a swirl of chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and allow to harden.

15. Fill a piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe a swirling line on the top of the cake. Cover this line with the toasted almonds. Top this line with the chocolate swirl.

16. Refrigerate before serving and enjoy!

 

Pinwheel Cookies

Holiday baking season is upon us! For me, Christmas and holiday baking are really the only redeeming part of winter. I’m so much more of a summer person but I do love to get festive. I thought I would start off this season with some super easy and super festive cinnamon pinwheel cookies. This recipe was adapted from a veeeeery old recipe (part of a project I’m working on!) but they honestly could not be easier. Plus, they taste like little cinnamon buns and seem to be loved by all who taste them. These keep for a while without getting stale and would make such a sweet gift!

pinwheelemyregan2.jpg

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Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted and separated

1/3 cup half and half

cinnamon to taste ( I used a few tablespoons)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (optional)

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Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Add one tablespoon melted butter and one third cup milk.
  4. Stir to combine into a smooth dough.
  5. Roll out dough to a thin sheet.
  6. Brush one tablespoon melted butter over the sheet of dough.
  7. Sprinkle dough with a thin layer of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
  8. Roll the dough up into a tube.
  9. Cut the cookies to even pieces, about 1/4 inch thick.
  10. Lay the cookies out on the baking sheet.
  11. Brush the tops of the cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  12. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until they have puffed up and turned slightly golden.
  13. Let cool and enjoy!

pinwheelsemyregan2.jpg